June 2, 2007

So Who Is Ron Paul, Part 1.5

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Due to the large number of comments in Part 1 of my previous entry about Ron Paul, I have decided to respond here in Part 1.5. Now many (but not all) of the comments stemmed from Ron Paul’s support on the Internet, which is measured in online polls. His actual support, which is measured in more conventional polls like Zogby, proves to be much smaller. So when my blog appeared in Google News under the search phrase “Ron Paul”, many of his supporters quickly flocked to this website thanks to Google News Alerts. But I’ll get into that with more detail and research in Part 2.

According to some of those commenters, I watch Fox News and Sean Hannity in particular, do not know what the term “blowback” means, do not know that the CIA invented that term, never did any research on Ron Paul (including reading that pro-Paul commentary from CNN I linked to in Part 1), got all my talking points and inspiration from the mainstream media and neocons, think the terrorists hate us because of our freedom, specialize in Bush’s tactics of fear and hate, etc. Well, guess what? None of that is true.

But let’s focus on some of the rational criticisms, in particular the accusation that I pulled a “straw man” when I talked about Ron Paul and negotiating with terrorists. I admit I made a mistake by not fully explaining my logic. While listening and acting do comprise two different things, listening does not make much sense if one does not act on what was heard. When the CIA listens to terrorists, they act by building up their intelligence to stop terrorists, a good idea. When Ron Paul listens to terrorists, he acts by considering their viewpoints in his foreign policy, especially to avoid blowback, a bad idea (by the way, in my previous entry, I wrote that Ron Paul called 9/11 “blowback,” not that he invented the term). It establishes the wrong mindset whether it involves negotiating with terrorists or instead listening to and considering their viewpoints when setting foreign policy. America must define its foreign policy on its own terms, not the terrorists’ terms.

So if I committed a logical fallacy here, it would be a hyperbole at worst. Negotiating with terrorists is different in some respects from listening to terrorists as Ron Paul would like us to do, but in terms of the mindset both establish, they are identical.

Granted, sometimes it’s good to consider opposing perspectives when making decisions. In Iraq, the United States currently is trying to do this with certain insurgent groups. The key to this idea, though, lies in drawing a line on where to stop. Some insurgents can be reasoned with. Others are too radical and extremist. Al Qaeda would definitely qualify as the latter. While I can understand why some war critics want us to listen to insurgent groups, I just can not understand why Ron Paul wants us to listen to Al Qaeda, particularly when they blame us for the actions of Russians and Indians as I noted in Part 1.

It also explains what I said about Afghanistan earlier. Regardless of what Ron Paul has said about Afghanistan, he has to withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan to prove that his non-interventionist policies work. Pulling out of part of the Middle East would pacify Al Qaeda, just like pulling out of part of Iraq would pacify the insurgents. Ron Paul was right when he said “they attack us because we’ve been over there.” Unfortunately, his views do not reflect the fact that “over there” applies whether we are “over there” for just or unjust reasons, and even applies if we had gone to Afghanistan only to target Al Qaeda and bin Laden and not the Taliban.

Let’s look at another poor foreign policy viewpoint by Ron Paul. While the Serbs committed ethnic cleansing against the Albanians in Kosovo, NATO, including the U.S., used military intervention to bring this atrocious massacre under control. However, maybe to avoid blowback and/or abide by non-interventionism, we should have instead let the ethnic cleansing continue. Well, Ron Paul did exactly that in 1999 when he introduced a bill to prohibit the United States from using the military in Kosovo: H.R. 647 in the 106th Congress. Luckily, the bill never made it out of committee. One should only worry about blowback in certain situations, such as the CIA-led coup in 1953 to install the Shah in Iran. For ethnic cleansing, the first Gulf War, and radical terrorist groups, letting the fear of blowback influence decisions makes no sense. And even with Iran in 1953, were our actions wrong because of the blowback from the Iranians, or because we overthrew a democratically elected government with our actions?

So while Ron Paul has quite a clout on the Internet, in reality his Presidency would turn out to be worse than Nixon or Carter or Bush II or whoever you think is the worst. And to whoever said I should debate Ron Paul, I say, bring it on.